Government is jumping on antisemitism bandwagon, says NUS chief
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Government is jumping on antisemitism bandwagon, says NUS chief

EXCLUSIVE: Larissa Kennedy made the comments to student union leaders on zoom after the Government cut ties with the body

Larissa Kennedy is questioned by parliamentary committee
Larissa Kennedy is questioned by parliamentary committee

The outgoing president of the National Union of Students (NUS) has accused the government of “jumping on the [antisemitism] bandwagon” after minsters cut ties with the body.

Larissa Kennedy made the comments during a Zoom meeting for 100 union officers called to discuss “the recent antisemitism allegations and the independent investigation the NUS has called”.

She said: “I think our movement is capable of saying this needs to be dealt with seriously and that the government is jumping on the bandwagon in a bad faith way when their record on antisemitism and racism is so horrendous.” She added that the NUS had never disengaged with government.

Last month, the government cut ties with the NUS over allegations of “systemic antisemitism within the organisation”.

Throughout the meeting, student union officers from multiple universities raised concerns about “the recent disengagement with the government” while asking: “What are we paying our [£25,000] affiliation fee for?”

Kennedy defended the NUS’ credibility, stating: “Jewish students have been able to raise their voices, have been able to tell us what they want from us and we have been able to act accordingly. That is, if anything, the most important thing here. A lot has been drawn out by people who don’t necessarily know the facts.”

She insisted that unofficial ties with government, where the majority of policy discussions take place, are ongoing.

In March, Jewish students were effectively told to self-segregate at NUS conference after they complained about a performance from controversial rapper Lowkey, who is a public supporter of sacked Bristol university academic David Miller and former Labour MP Chris Williamson.

Newly-elected NUS president Shaima Dallali is under separate investigation after tweeting an ancient Islamic battle cry referencing the massacre of Jews.

Rebecca Tuck QC, a barrister specialising in employment and discrimination law, has been appointed to lead an independent investigation into antisemitism allegations at the NUS.

A senior source from within the Department for Education responded: “You would think an organisation that prattles on about the importance of ‘anti-oppression’ would, when confronted with real racist antisemitism, finally have a moment of realisation.”

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